Siegel: We were the living lab
The phrase “living lab” has been applied by the city to various public works experiments, mostly failures, like one-way streets, taking away parking, bike lanes and the like. The phrase has not been applied to the living — the people actually affected by the rapidly changing demographics and economy base of Aspen.
When developers now speak of targeting projects toward the 100 billionaires having homes in Aspen, the new normal becomes clear: Residents and many second-home owners have been priced out for goods and services in our town. Query: When was the last time a member of City Council bought a pair of shoes in town or had to call a plumber?
There was a time when the economic gears could have been adjusted to make Aspen a more attractive town for merchants and trades people to conduct day-to-day business.
But, for example, our intrepid city government did an historically inane job of trying to regulate menus for a “locals option” as a part of the regulatory/leasing process. And, the taxes and regulations grew at an uncontrolled rate. So, today, Aspen is no longer a living lab that can be tweaked for the betterment; but, rather, it is a frog in a pot of water that is getting hotter and hotter by our “leaders” own doing.
Neil B. Siegel